House debates

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Questions without Notice

Defence White Paper

2:29 pm

Photo of Sarah HendersonSarah Henderson (Corangamite, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. Will the minister advise the House how the government's defence white paper will ensure that Australian manufacturers like Marand can contribute to Australia's future prosperity and create jobs and growth? How does the defence white paper complement the government's innovation agenda?

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Corangamite for her question. Today is a red-letter day for the defence industry in Australia. The defence white paper and the Defence Industry Policy Statement are, quite frankly, transformative for defence industry in our country, and totally complement the policy that we announced in December last year of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. Both of these policies are now working hand in glove to maximise high-tech and advanced manufacturing in this country, delivering jobs and growth to the economy right across the nation.

For the first time, the government is formally recognising in the defence white paper that defence industry is a pillar of our national security capability. This puts defence industry very much at the centre of defence and security policy. To give an example: we have announced today that we will invest $1.6 billion in building capacity in defence industry through three mechanisms. There is $230 million for a Centre for Defence Industry Capability, which will be a defence and industry growth centre modelled on the other growth centres in my portfolio. There is $730 million for a next-generation technology fund and $640 million for a virtual defence innovation hub. Through those three mechanisms we will continue to build defence industry capability so that our workers, our managers and our owners in the defence industry sector can thrive into the future.

What all this demonstrates is that we are absolutely committed to using our defence industry procurement dollar to drive high-tech and advanced manufacturing in this country, because that is the future of manufacturing industry in Australia. These kinds of projects—large projects, like the 12 submarines that we have committed to today, the Future Frigate program and the offshore patrol vessels—are very high-technology pieces of equipment. For six years Labor sat on their hands in government and did nothing to promote defence industry in Australia. They created the 'valley of death' and raided defence to prop up their budget—reducing spending to the lowest levels since 1938. Today, the government is putting that money back. Over the course of the next 10 years, we will be delivering submarines, we will be delivering future frigates and we will be delivering offshore patrol vessels. We are fixing the problem that Labor created. We are investing another $30 billion in defence industry over the next 10 years. It is a great day for Australia and for South Australia. (Time expired)